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Updated: 11 min 30 sec ago
Human highlight reel Dustin Brown is at it again.
The spectacular German showed off another part of his arsenal at the Bergamo Challenger in Italy on Wednesday. Seemingly in trouble after hitting a half-volley, Brown went behind-the-back for a clean winner off his opponent’s passing shot.
Confidence matters on the tennis court, and World No. 72 Nicolas Almagro is well on his way to recapturing it at the Argentina Open in Buenos Aires.
The Spaniard, once ranked No.9 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, continued his quest for a first ATP World Tour title in four years by advancing to the quarter-finals with a hard-fought 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 win over home hope Federico Delbonis.
Almagro is coming off two injury-marred seasons after averaging over 45 wins per year between 2010 and 2013, but he is back in familiar territory in South America. The 2011 champion, who netted 16 of his 18 match wins on clay last season, improved to 27-9 in Buenos Aires. It took two hours and 13 minutes for Almagro to earn his third match win of the season, during which he held 14 break points (3/14).
In the quarter-finals, he will face either third seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga or Argentine Leonardo Mayer.
Rising star Dominic Thiem was a point away from being upset by qualifier Gastao Elias before flipping the script and prevailing 3-6, 7-6(7), 6-3.
The Austrian made a slow start, dropping both break points faced in the opening set against an opponent who was playing in his first tour-level event of the year. The fifth-seeded Thiem got up to speed in the second set, but Elias held strong, turning aside five break points and holding a match point at 7/6 in the tie-break. It was then that the youngest player in the Top 20 showed his quality, reeling off the next three points to even the match and eventually winning in two hours and nine minutes.
Thiem, who captured all three of his ATP World Tour titles on clay, awaits the winner of John Isner and Dusan Lajovic.
Engaged in a baseline rally, Vasek Pospisil flicks a winner past Alexander Zverev on Wednesday at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament. Watch live matches at http://www.tennistv.com/
Second seed Marin Cilic reacts to beating Gilles Muller in two tie-break sets on Wednesday at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament. Watch live matches at http://www.tennistv.com/
ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament – Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Gael Monfils launched the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in style with a daring stunt in Rotterdam. The Frenchman took to the roof of a hotel to fire balls across the street to suspended stunt “ball kids”, who were dangling in front of a vertical tennis court.
"It was different, it was fun," said Monfils. "It was cool that we tried something new. But they didn't catch the ball, so I'm pretty disappointed! With the wind, it was tough for me to be precise, but I think it's tough for them to catch it. But it was cool. It was a good try."
Defending doubles champions Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau played with Richard Krajicek and Dutch wheelchair tennis star Esther Vergeer on a special court in front of Rotterdam’s Central Station.
David Goffin and Viktor Troicki met fans and signed autographs.
Argentina Open – Buenos Aires, Argentina
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was a busy man in Buenos Aires.
The Frenchman visited a traditional Argentine Asador to learn how to make two very well-known and popular sandwiches, the choripan and the bondiola. View Photo
“I like Argentinian meat, it’s one of the best in the world,” said Tsonga after the experience. “I’m used to cooking at home and I have a big barbeque at home.”
Tsonga and Juan Monaco visited Buenos Aires Playa to play some mini tennis with fans. View Photo
Tsonga also joined Dominic Thiem for a practice tie-break with some highly-trained ball dogs. View Photo
Leonardo Mayer, Fabio Fognini, Guido Pella and Dusan Lajovic were on hand for kids’ day as they played some points with children in wheelchairs and hit balls into the stands. View Photo
Santiago Giraldo and Nicolas Almagro did on-stage interviews and signed autographs for fans.
Memphis Open – Memphis, Tennessee
The Bryan Brothers, Steve Johnson and Sam Querrey took to the basketball court during Monday night's Memphis Grizzlies game at FedExForum for a shootout. View Photo
Taylor Fritz (18), Tommy Paul (18), Frances Tiafoe (18), Michael Mmoh (18) and Jared Donaldson (19) posed together in front of the Racquet Club’s Memphis Open 40th anniversary tournament sign to mark a record five American teens in the main draw of the tournament. Read More
Steve Johnson, Dudi Sela and Scott Lipsky took time away from the Memphis Open to visit St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, meeting fans and signing autographs. View Photo
Sam Querrey, Max Mirnyi and Max's brother Peter visit FedEx headquarter in Memphis to try out the flight simulator. View Photo
Austin Krajicek and Nicholas Monroe visited the University of Tennessee West Cancer Center to bring smiles to patients. View Photo
Krajicek and Monroe also did a Q&A with young local school kids and got some cute questions. View photo
Roberto Bautista Agut kept up his strong early season form in Rotterdam on Wednesday as he reached the second round of the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament with a 7-6(4), 1-6, 6-3 victory over Joao Sousa.
The Spaniard has a 13-2 mark in his best start to an ATP World Tour campaign, with two titles already in Auckland (d. Sock) and last week in Sofia (d. Troicki). He goes on to face Jiri Vesely for a quarter-final spot.
Philipp Kohlschreiber was the first player through to the quarter-finals as he defeated qualifier Ivan Dodig 6-4, 6-2 in 70 minutes. The German also reached the quarter-finals last week in Sofia (l. to Troicki) and goes on to challenge second seed Marin Cilic.
Cilic, the 2014 finalist, held his nerve to beat fellow big-server Gilles Muller 7-6(2), 7-6(7). There were no breaks of serve in the two-hour encounter.
"I was expecting a close match," said Cilic. "Luckily I was serving well today and I was mentally focused. I was close to breaking a few times in the second set and put pressure on his serve. Gilles is a very difficult player to play against indoors and I'm happy to be through."
Eighth seed Viktor Troicki celebrated his 30th birthday by striking 14 aces in a 4-6, 7-6(2), 6-3 victory over qualifier Andrey Kuznetsov in two hours and six minutes. He now plays teenager Hyeon Chung.
Elsewhere, Jeremy Chardy battled his way past lucky loser Evgeny Donskoy, a replacement for Richard Gasquet, by saving one match point at 7/8 in the third set tie-break to win 6-7(9), 6-4, 7-6(8) over two hours and 23 minutes. He'll next meet fellow Frenchman Nicolas Mahut, a qualifier.
Teenager Sascha Zverev offered a mature performance in dismissing Canadian Vasek Pospisil 7-5, 6-2 in the first round, winning the pair’s first tour-level meeting. Rather than attempt to over-power the hard-hitting Pospisil, Zverev successfully used heavy crosscourt forehands to prevent his opponent from gaining a foothold in the match.
The German wild card did not hit an ace in the match, but saved the only break point faced in the 81-minute win. The 6’6” Zverev won 64 per cent of points (19/30) on the Pospisil second serve.
Zverev’s next opponent will be Gilles Simon, who advanced to the second round with a 7-6(5), 6-1 win over Dutch wild card Robin Haase after overcoming a 2-5 deficit in the opening set.
Widely known as a counter-puncher, Simon turned the match around against the 6’3” Haase by attacking. In his comeback, the Frenchman consistently used angled ground strokes to expose the Dutchman’s movement before gliding to net for the put-away volley. He finished the day with 32 winners and improved to 4-1 in his FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry against Haase.
In the final match of the day, Gael Monfil saw off Borna Coric 6-3, 5-7, 6-2 to move into the quarter-finals. The elastic Frenchman, who made a quarter-final showing at the Australian Open, overpowered the young Croat with his serve-forehand combination and improved to 6-2 on the year.
“[Coric] is a good fighter,” Monfils said. “I got a little bit tight at the end of the second set. But fortunately I came back strong in the third set. I served a bit faster and used my forehand well again.
“It was a very physical match. He was running a lot and very fast. We had some great rallies. He is very talented.”
Monfils’ best result in Rotterdam was a semi-final appearance in 2009. He awaits the winner of Simon and Zverev.
Joao Sousa look to have the point won, but Roberto Bautista Agut has other ideas on Wednesday at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament. Watch live matches at http://www.tennistv.com/
Dustin Brown produces a stunning hot shot at the Bergamo Challenger in Italy.
Rising teenager Taylor Fritz has won his first match on home soil, defeating fellow American Memphis Open debutant Michael Mmoh 6-3, 6-4 to reach the second round on Tuesday. The Californian, currently at No. 145 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, had extended countryman Jack Sock to five sets in the opening round of this year’s Australian Open, having won through three rounds of qualifying.
He continued his hard-court momentum against fellow 18-year-old, Mmoh, in Memphis. “Feels good, I played a really solid match all the way through. I’ve got to be happy with everything,” Fritz said. “Of course, the first one, always remember the first ATP win in the US.”
He sent down 10 aces and broke once in each set, while saving all three break points he faced against the Saudi Arabian-born qualifier, who was making his ATP World Tour main draw debut. A crucial break came at 2-2 in the second set. “That whole game I played three really good points and he gave me a double fault, but that was the kind of game you have to play at this level to get a break,” he said.
And for all the hype over the next wave of American hopefuls, Fritz admitted he hadn’t played the likes of Mmoh, Frances Tiafoe, Tommy Paul or Jared Donaldson as often as many would expect in the juniors.
“Honestly, only played him [Mmoh] once,” he said of his opponent on Tuesday. “I was always playing a level lower. Michael said the same thing. I used to not be that good. I used to not be at the level of Michael and Frances and those guys.
“We’ve only really been playing the same events for two years so in that time I’ve got to see how far I’ve come.” Fritz will meet second seed, another American, Steve Johnson next.
Australian No. 7 seed John Millman, coming off his first ATP World Tour quarter-final in Montpellier last week, scored a narrow 6-3, 6-7(4), 7-5 win over American Austin Krajicek. Both sent down 11 aces in the two-hour, 42-minute match but it was the 26-year-old Queenslander who had more success on the break points, converting on four of 12 opportunities.
Millman's countryman, Matt Ebden, was not so fortunate. Ebden was forced to retire while trailing Swiss qualifier Henri Laaksonen 1-6, 0-3. Lithuania’s Ricardas Berankis ground out a 6-7(5), 6-2, 7-5 win over Israeli Dudi Sela, while Spaniard Marcel Granollers had a comfortable 6-1, 6-3 result against Portugal’s Malek Jaziri.
In doubles action, three-time champions Bob and Mike Bryan suffered a surprise defeat to fellow Americans Austin Kraijcek and Nicholas Monroe 1-6, 7-6(5), [12-10]. The top seeds had won their first doubles title together at Memphis in 2001 and titled again in 2004 and 2013 but fell in a match tiebreak to the unseeded pairing. American fourth seeds Steve Johnson and Sam Querrey had a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Spaniard Marcel Granollers and Australian Sam Groth, while the American wild card duo of Fritz and Ryan Harrison stunned No. 2 seeds Treat Huey, of the Philippines, and Belarusian Max Mirnyi, 7-6(3), 6-4.
It was mixed results for the highest seeds in action at the Argentina Open on Tuesday with No. 5 Dominic Thiem progressing and No. 6 Fabio Fognini crashing out. Juan Monaco later sealed a second-round rematch of last year's final with defending champion Rafal Nadal.
For the second time in as many FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings, Thiem and Pablo Carreno Busta went the distance. And for the second time in as many encounters it was the 22-year-old Thiem who emerged victorious over three sets, with the Austrian posting a 6-0, 3-6, 6-3 victory over the Spaniard in the first round.
The youngest player in the Emirates ATP Rankings Top 20, Thiem blitzed the opening set before the 24-year-old Carreno Busta – the youngest of 14 Spaniards in the Top 100 – found his range. The pair had met on clay in Gstaad last year, when it was Thiem who again won through in three and on Tuesday he again found composure after letting the second set slip.
He finished the one-hour, 21-minute affair with four aces and converted five of nine break points. Thiem will next face Portuguese qualifier Gaston Elias, who rebounded to defeat Spaniard Daniel Munoz de la Nava 4-6, 6-4, 6-1 in two hours and 14 minutes.
There was cause for Buenos Aires fans to celebrate when two local players on the comeback trail from injuries – Federico Delbonis and Monaco – posted victories. Delbonis upset No. 6 seed Fognini 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-4. The 25-year-old left-hander, making his sixth appearance at the Argentina Open, took down the World No. 24 in two hours and 29 minutes, securing five of 10 break points and saving seven of the 10 on his own serve. He will meet Spaniard Nicolas Almagro in the second round.
Monaco had a straight-forward 6-1, 6-3 result over Italian qualifier Marco Cecchinati in little more than an hour. The 31-year-old – a champion here in 2007 and runner-up in 2009 and 2015 – missed just four first serves for the match and made good on four of five break points.
Paolo Lorenzi ensured it wasn't all bad news for the Italians in action. He secured a 2-6, 7-5, 6-2 win over Spaniard Pablo Andujar. Uruguayan eighth seed Pablo Cuevas forged his way past Spain’s Albert Ramos-Vinolas 7-5, 6-2 on the back of 10 aces over one hour and 34 minutes. Cuevas booked an all-South American second-round clash with Colombia’s Santiago Giraldo.
In an all-Argentine battle, wild card Renzo Olivo edged Facundo Bagnis 7-6(9), 7-5 in two hours and 12 minutes, while Serb Dusan Lajovic had a 7-6(7), 6-3 triumph over another Argentinian Facundo Arguello.
Imagine losing 43 per cent of all points you play, and it being the best day of your life. Welcome to Novak's world.
To start 2016, Novak Djokovic mentally seems to be widening the gap between himself and everyone else on the planet. The gap 'feels' cavernous. The 'Big Four' is currently dominated by one player.
Novak is unbeaten so far in 2016, going 12-0 with titles in Doha and Melbourne. He has won a pre-eminent 57 per cent of his points so far this season. Those numbers add up just perfectly for the World No. 1.
The super Serb has 16,790 Emirates ATP Rankings points this week, which is about double that of World No. 2 Andy Murray (8,945 points) and about 10 times as many as World No. 20 Bernard Tomic (1,720 points). But there is good news for all the players chasing Djokovic up the mountain. Forget looking at Emirates ATP Rankings points. That's just going to make you nauseous.
Players need to break the daunting chase down to it's simplest element in order to follow the same road map Djokovic took to the summit. Don't focus on matches, sets or games. Focus on points, which are the critical building blocks of our sport. An investigation of points lays bare the incremental improvements in Djokovic’s game, helping to dissect his global dominance.
A detailed Infosys ATP Beyond the Numbers analysis of Djokovic’s last three seasons gives you a crystal clear look at his pathway to the top.
2014 = 55% Points Won (Record 61-8)
Winning 55 per cent of points in a season is going to put you at World No. 1, year in and year out. If you win 55 per cent of points in a set, it's typically going to be 6-3. Winning 55 per cent of points over a season has been the gold standard of our sport, basically assuring you sit above all in the Emirates ATP Rankings.
2015 = 56% Points Won (Record 82-6)
Djokovic somehow found another level last year, having one of the best seasons our sport has seen. What is interesting is that playing absolutely lights out, winning 11 events, including three Grand Slams, six ATP World Tour Masters 1000s and the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, only resulted in a one percentage point upswing for the Serb.
2016 so far = 57% Points Won (Record 12-0)
The Serb has won 100 per cent of his matches to start the 2016 season, but that is only derived from a one percentage point bump above and beyond what he achieved last year. Because Djokovic wins every match, it 'feels' like he is almost winning every point. But that's far from the truth.
Returning Is Improving
From 2015 to 2016, Djokovic is making the same amount of first serves (66 per cent), winning the same amount of second serve points (60 per cent), and winning exactly the same amount of points serving (70 per cent).
It's the returning side of life where he has primarily squeezed the extra one per cent from this year. The world's best returner is actually returning better, as the data below reveal.Points Won Returning Serve 2014 2015 2016 Returning 1st Serves 33% 34% 35% Returning 2nd Serves 58% 57% 61% Break Points Converted 45% 44% 45% Return Games Won 33% 34% 36% Return Points Won 43% 43% 45% Total Points Won 55% 56% 57%
So far this season, Djokovic has found a way to put up superior numbers to those of 2014 and 2015. There is still a long way to go in the year, but it's the best start possible.
Win 55 per cent of points over a season and you own the world. Play your best for a year, and you can add just one more percentage point to that total. Achieve perfection with matches won, and it's just a solitary, single click more. Basic metrics are the foundation of the sport.
It’s impossible to sit on the side of a court watching a match and identify where that one percentage point of separation out of 100 is won by Djokovic. It’s too much of a blur. We feel Djokovic is playing better, but it’s the numbers that identify exactly where he is blazing new ground.
Read more insights at Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers
One week after his runner-up finish at the Australian Open, Andy Murray has become a father. His wife, Kim Sears, gave birth to an 8lb 10oz girl on 7 February.
"Andy and Kim had a daughter in the early hours of Sunday morning and the family are doing well," Murray’s agent confirmed.
His hometown of Dunblane commemorated the birth by tying a pink ribbon around a gold post box, painted in the Scot's honour following his gold medal triumph at the London Olympics.
Dunblane baby love........xxx pic.twitter.com/Lz8DNIt0Sb— judy murray (@judmoo) February 9, 2016
Murray and Sears wed last April in Dunblane, 10 years after first meeting.
Marcos Baghdatis has seen his fair share of highs and lows on the ATP World Tour — from reaching a career-high of No. 8 in the Emirates ATP Rankings and playing the Australian Open final in 2006, to enduring a catalogue of injuries and dropping outside the Top 150 a couple of years ago.
But with the support of his wife, former WTA player Karolina Sprem, and his family and team, the ever-popular Cypriot is approaching his 14th year on tour with a renewed sense of optimism after rediscovering his love for the game. With clear goals for his remaining time on tour, Baghdatis is hoping for big things over the course of the next three years.
Speaking after his first-round win over fourth seed David Goffin on Tuesday at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam, Baghdatis told ATPWorldTour.com, “I got tired at one moment. I lost myself a bit, trying different things. That's what you can't do. Then injuries came, some health problems that were bothering me. The past four or five years have been a long road for me.
“Karolina was very important because she also played tennis. She also went through a career and she had some injuries herself. She helped me a lot first of all to have someone to listen to me, who has felt what I've been through. Having her around was like having an ex-tennis player, like Pat Cash, or a player like that. An important person in tennis. To have her around was very important and she helped me take some decisions towards what we are doing now. It's great.”
The Baghdatis family welcomed their second daughter, India, in the off-season and the Cypriot explained that having his own family at home has given him a greater sense of perspective when he steps onto the tennis court. It was that perspective and a sense of calm that ultimately made the difference in his close battle with Goffin, which saw him win a 41-shot rally on match point.
“It's tougher and tougher!” Baghdatis joked at living in a house with three girls. “It's the best thing that ever happened to me. Everyone's asking if we'll go for a third one and try for a boy! We don't know. We are happy to have two lovely children. They're healthy and everything is good. My wife is handling it well. She's healthy and I couldn't ask for me. For now, we're just enjoying the time.
“Whenever I get home it's even nicer for me because I get to spend more time with the older one, Zahara. I get to know her much more. Before it was bit tougher, she wanted mummy all the time. But now mummy's not so available, I'm more available, so it's always nice to spend some time with her and do things together.
“I think some pressure comes off [as a father]. Like for example today, I was playing against Goffin. If I lose, I go home tomorrow to my child. So you don't get too stressed during the match or before it. If I lose today, tomorrow I'm home to hug my daughter, which is one of the best things in the world. Really it takes a lot of pressure off you.”
Last season saw Baghdatis re-establish himself in and around the Top 50, highlighted by a run to the Atlanta final (l. to Isner). Despite frustrating spells out due to injury, it was his most consistent campaign for a long time, but the 30-year-old Baghdatis is hoping for even better this season and over the course of the next three years.
“I learned from it a lot,” said Baghdatis. “I'm looking forward to continuing the same way we did last year, because I think towards Wimbledon and after Wimbledon, I hit my peak and then I got injured again. I feel good, healthy and happy and just enjoying my time now.
“I have some long-term objectives that I would like to achieve before I retire. With my wife, my family and the new people in my team, we've put good goals. We managed to balance everything around my tennis, which is the most important thing for my career, to make me go out there and just play tennis and not think about anything else.
“Last year so many 30 and over guys won the tournaments. It's encouraging to see,” continued the Cypriot. “They're playing their best tennis and I think I am playing my best tennis. I think I can play even better and be more consistent. That's what we're working for. Now it's a matter of staying fit. I hope to play another year in the Top 50 and maybe make the step to Top 30, which is the goal.
“I think it will help me enormously for the next three years. That's where I will get more consistent playing matches at this level, like last week I played against Richard Gasquet, a Top 10 guy, against Tsonga in Australia and now against Goffin, a Top 20 guy. So for me it's very important to play this level very often this year and try to stay there, in the Top 30. Big things will come in the next three years.”
Kei Nishikori is targetting a return to the Top 5 in the Emirates ATP Rankings this year. The Japanese star is currently 90-points behind No. 6-ranked David Ferrer and 645 points behind No. 5-ranked Rafael Nadal.
"I was very happy to be No. 4 last year, although I wasn't there for a long time," said Nishikori, who spent six weeks at No. 4 in August and September 2015. "That's something I have to work on this year, to get into the Top 4 or 5. That will be a big challenge for me, because Novak [Djokovic] is playing amazing, Andy [Murray] is playing better and Roger [Federer] is playing great tennis again. It will be difficult to be there, but if I stay focused I think I have a chance to get there."
This week, Nishikori is hoping to capture a fourth straight Memphis Open, where he has won 13 consecutive matches. His only loss came against Marcos Baghdatis in 2009.
"I'm really looking forward to playing," he said. "This is one of my favourite tournaments, winning three years in a row, and I hope to win another one this year. I will try to play one match at a time and concentrate in order to play good tennis. I know it isn't easy, but I have great confidence playing here and I like to spend time in Memphis. I will try to enjoy this week."
Nishikori trained with wild card Tommy Paul, one of 13 Americans in the 28-player draw, earlier this week. He plays another American, Ryan Harrison, in his first match.
Watch Hot Shot as Marcos Baghdatis shows a turn of pace to retrieve a David Goffin drop volley on Tuesday at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament. Watch live tennis at tennistv.com.
Gael Monfils launched the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in style on Monday as he played his part in a daring stunt in the city of Rotterdam.
The Frenchman, who is seeded fifth at the ATP World Tour 500 indoor hard-court tournament, took to the roof of a hotel to fire balls across the street to suspended stunt “ball kids”, who were dangling in front of a vertical tennis court.
"It was different, it was fun," said Monfils. "It was cool that we tried something new. But they didn't catch the ball, so I'm pretty disappointed! With the wind, it was tough for me to be precise, but I think it's tough for them to catch it. But it was cool. It was a good try."
Monfils was joined in the stunt by Tournament Director Richard Krajicek, who did manage to hit one of the balls into the outstretched hand of the ball kid. "I'm happy I'm on this side of the street, because there was talk that I would be there trying to catch the ball! It was great and a good way to start the tournament."
Monfils opens his campaign on Tuesday evening against qualifier Ernests Gulbis.
Gilles Muller will take on second seed and 2014 runner-up Marin Cilic in the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament second round after beating Andreas Seppi for the first time in their fourth tour-level meeting. Muller, who has already reached two ATP World Tour semi-finals this year, hit 19 aces to beat Seppi 4-6, 7-6(2), 6-4 in two hours and seven minutes on Tuesday. Last week, Muller lost to eventual champion Roberto Bautista Agut in the Sofia semi-finals.
Another player who performed well in the Bulgarian capital, Philipp Kohlschreiber, improved to 6-0 lifetime against Julien Benneteau with a 6-4, 6-4 win in 90 minutes. Benneteau, the 2013 finalist, struck 14 aces. Kohlschreiber goes onto face qualifier Ivan Dodig in the second round.
Marcos Baghdatis recovered from a 2/5 deficit in the third set tie-break to edge past fourth seed David Goffin 6-1, 5-7, 7-6(5). Baghdatis claimed victory only after winning a 41-stroke rally on match point. "It was an amazing point. I was just defending, slicing three metres behind the baseline," Baghdatis said. "I kept putting the ball back and making him do something and eventually he made a mistake."
Flamboyant Frenchman Gael Monfils atoned for a first-round loss last week in Montpellier with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Latvian qualifier Ernests Gulbis to reach the second round. The fifth seed saved the lone break point he faced and broke Gulbis once in each set. He next faces fast-rising Croatian teen Borna Coric.
"That was the key for me, I served great," said Monfils. "I definitely put pressure on his forehand and tried to be alert. We know Ernests can give you one, two, three points in a row. I tried to be ready for anything he was willing to give me."
Looking ahead to his first meeting with Coric, Monfils said, "It's going to be a tough one. He's a young player, strong from the baseline, and runs well. It's tough to hit winners on this court, so tomorrow I'm expecting long rallies. I will try to dictate with my forehand and try to serve good, move him around the court."
Martin Klizan saved all six break points he faced in a 6-2, 6-7(5), 6-3 win over Spanish veteran Tommy Robredo to reach the second round. The World No. 43 Slovak, who went winless in January, has now won four of his past five matches. A semi-finalist last week in Sofia, 26-year-old Klizan will next face Baghdatis.
Elsewhere, 19-year-old Hyeon Chung battled past Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 5-7, 6-4, 6-4. He'll next face Sofia finalist and eighth seed Viktor Troicki or qualifier Andrey Kuznetsov.
Top seed Richard Gasquet withdrew from the ATP World Tour 500 tournament due to viral illness (flu) and was replaced in the main draw by lucky loser Evgeny Donskoy.
ATP World Tour Uncovered goes behind the scenes at the 2016 Garanti Koza Sofia Open, the newest tournament on the ATP World Tour.
Gael Monfils has the responsibility of firing tennis balls at suspended stunt ball kids in a daring stunt in Rotterdam.
ATP World Tour Uncovered profiles Richard Gasquet, with insight from his coach Sergi Bruguera, who recently won the Montpellier title.